Kevin Lee says Conor McGregor is not the real UFC lightweight champ

Kevin Lee explains why Conor McGregor shouldn't be called the UFC lightweight champion

Kevin Lee may not be Tony Ferguson‘s biggest fan but he knows when they face off on Oct. 7 that they will be competing to determine the true lightweight champion in the UFC.

Of course there is an interim tag attached to the fight at UFC 216 because current 155-pound champion Conor McGregor is out of action following his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, but Lee says the Irishman really has no claim on the title despite beating Eddie Alvarez last November to take home the belt.

Lee says the real mark of a champion is someone who is willing to go through the best of the best in a division and work their way to the top just like he’s done lately and how Ferguson has won his last nine fights in a row en route to the title fight in October.

“This is definitely the lightweight championship and I think any real fan understands,” Lee told the Fight Society podcast this week. “The d–k suckers, they don’t but any real fan they understand, me and Tony both had double digit fights in the lightweight division. How can you call a man with one fight in the division as the champ?

“He hasn’t gone through the murderer’s row of 155 [pounds]. There’s some killers down there who are unranked. I think even Conor looks at himself as not the champ.”

McGregor has previously committed to returning to the UFC after his fight with Mayweather, although he hasn’t stated any time recently on a specific date for his next fight.

Lee can’t be certain whether McGregor will come back or not after he reportedly pocketed more than $100 million for his fight against Mayweather although the top 10 ranked lightweight would never understand how he could walk away after his loss in the boxing ring.

“I don’t know how you sleep with yourself at night, especially getting bullied around by a 40-year old man who’s coming off of two years of retirement. If that’s the way he can sleep at night even if he got $100 million, I hope that s–t keeps you warm,” Lee said.

As much as Lee and Ferguson will undoubtedly answer questions about McGregor leading into their fight, the “Motown Phenom” isn’t all that concerned whether or not he ever returns to the Octagon.

Lee sees McGregor as a fighter who has earned a lot of money in his career — and more power to him for that — but ultimately when it comes down to the competition, he regards the Irishman as nothing more than a quitter when the going gets tough.

“I knew Mayweather was going to beat Conor because Conor’s a quitter. Conor quit during that fight. That’s the thing about fighting — you can’t hide who you really are. If you a b–ch it’s gonna show and this is not the first time,” Lee said.

“It showed in his first Nate Diaz fight. It showed again in the second Nate Diaz fight and it showed versus Mayweather. When you’re slapping around and kind of signaling to the refs that you tired. That’s him wanting to quit.”

Perhaps that’s why Lee is so excited to test himself against someone like Ferguson, who has been in trouble in fights yet found a way to climb back up to earn a victory.

“You’ll never see Tony Ferguson like that. Tony Ferguson went to war with [Rafael] dos Anjos for five rounds in Mexico City at altitude. Of course he’s tired but he’s not going to show it like that,” Lee added.

“Tony’s tough as f–k. I’ll give him that. I’m expecting a dog fight. Even when I’m watching him, he does a lot of things wrong but he makes them right. Tony’s no b–ch.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.